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Recap / Archer S 5 E 1 White Elephant

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On Malory's birthday, an explosion rocks ISIS headquarters, and Brett Bunsen is killed in an attack led by some heavily-armoured intruders, who turn out to be the FBI. Agent Holly, the leader of the division, arrests the employees for, among various other charges, treason, as ISIS had been conducting espionage without the permission of the US government. The ISIS crew are taken into custody, where Malory urges them not to give up ISIS' secrets, and that she will get them free of all charges. They do anyway, in order to receive immunity, which none of them are granted in the end.


Malory does end up removing the charges, but only by giving up legal ownership of ISIS headquarters in the process. Just like that, all ISIS employees find themselves unemployed and are forced to find a purpose in life. Until, that is, Sterling opens a large vault in Malory's office, to reveal a literal (not figurative) tonne of cocaine. When the idea arises that the employees could form a cartel, Archer imagines what their lives would be like if they went through with the career change, before saying the words that would change not just the title, but also the very premise of the show itself.

Archer: ...Archer Vice.


This episode provides examples of:

  • Boom, Headshot!: Brett Bunsen gets shot again, only this time it's a fatal case of Pretty Little Headshots.
  • Continuity Nod/Noodle Incident: The crimes the ISIS staff confess to are either one or the other.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: At the end of the episode, Archer imagines what the gang's new life will be like running a drug cartel, and we see various scenes from future episodes (and some that aren't).
  • Foreshadowing: Cyril mentions that he trained to be a lawyer. He ends up acting as one for the drug cartel the ISIS crew form.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Brett's deadly bullet wound has an entry point shown, but no exit wound.
  • Reality Ensues: Want to operate your own private espionage agency without permission or oversight from the government? Well then don't be surprised when you're arrested by the FBI for treason.
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  • Tonight, Someone Dies: It was hyped up before the season started that someone would be Killed Off for Real. It turned out to be Brett, and this was likely used to hype the new season, as saying basically anything else would completely spoil the episode.
  • Trailers Always Spoil/Spoiler Opening: At the end of the episode, Archer has an Imagine Spot showing clips from later episodes. While many of the clips do not appear at all later on, some of the ones that do happen to be major spoilers for later episodes. These include: Charles and Rudy making away with the cocaine and the money, the money taken from Charles and Rudy being counterfeit, Ron getting shot by the Yakuza, La Madrina turning on Archer.
    • Never Trust a Trailer: That said, several scenes never appear in the season, namely Archer sitting at a desk with a tiger sitting on top, Lana's water breaking in Morocco in the same conditions as Archer (even dressed as Mallory was at the time), Archer driving a speedboat outside Miami, Archer and Lana in a room with several Hell's Angels holding clubs and chains, Archer, Mallory, Lana, Cyril and Pam in a life raft with a tiger, Archer being held at gunpoint inside a dam by FBI Special Agent Holly a lá The Fugitive, Cherlene being kidnapped, Cherlene's tour bus exploding as Ray reports her kidnapping from a payphone, a helicopter being shot down, Archer accidentally invading Laos with insurgents, his manicurist and a tiger, Archer skydiving, Archer and Lana fleeing police on a motorcycle then ramping off a flatbed and Pam driving a limo while Cheryl fires an RPG at a police car.
  • Wham Episode: A big enough episode to literally change the show's very premise. ISIS is ended by Malory to save everyone's skins after it's been revealed they've been working without government sanction, and shifts, in order to make money now the employees are all jobless, to becoming a drug cartel using the Tunt mansion.
  • Wham Line: "What are we going to do with literally, not figuratively, a ton of cocaine?"
    • "...Archer Vice!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • Archer shoots one of the masked intruders, and the man falls backwards to reveal the FBI logo on the back of his shirt.
    • The shot of the literal ton of cocaine in Malory's office.


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